Monday, November 13, 2017

Is It Ever OK To Cheat On My Diet?

This is a question I get quite often from my weight loss clients. Not only is it OK to splurge now and again, I actually insist on it!

There are lots of reasons why it is perfectly fine to go off your diet a few times each week:

1) You don’t need to be perfect on your diet to attain your weight loss and health improvement goals. If you are good 90% of the time, you will do awesome. If you eat 21 meals a week, being good 90% of the time leaves 2 meals a week to have some fun.

2) There are times in your life where eating junk food is just fun and appropriate. When I am at a Jets or Islanders game, I am not eating a can of black beans with nuts and a piece of fruit. It is just not going to happen.

3) It is not realistic to be perfect on your diet, so why set yourself up for failure? A big part of my weight loss program is strictly limiting refined carbohydrates like bread, white rice, pasta and desserts. If I told a client that they could never, ever eat any of these foods again, even the most motivated of them would last a few weeks or at most a few months. However, knowing you can have these foods a few times a week makes it much easier to stay on the program long term, which is necessary if you want to hit your goals. At the end of the day, being able to go off your diet twice a week significantly improves long-term adherence.

4) Having the ability to go off your diet gives you options when you are not in control of your food choices. For example, being invited to a wedding or a dinner party can be a big problem if you are trying to be tight with your diet. You don’t really know what you are going to be served. Using one of your splurge meals at the event will allow you to eat whatever is there and not worry about going off your plan.

5) It may even help you to lose weight to overeat a bit twice a week. While I have seen no hard research data on this at all, I feel that overeating a few times a week may relax your body’s natural defense mechanism to a chronic decrease in calories.

I do have just a couple of rules for my clients when it comes to splurging:

1) These are splurge meals, not splurge days. In other words, these are not 10 hour affairs, just 1 meal.

2) No back to back splurges. Keeping a stable blood sugar is the key to long-term calorie reduction. Splurging two days in a row can really throw off your blood sugar and kick start hunger and cravings. I have my clients have a splurge meal midweek on Wednesday and another on Saturday.

3) I have my clients avoid sugar even on splurge meals. It is just too addictive for most people who are trying to lose weight. However, sugar free desserts are permitted on splurge meals for those who have a sweet tooth.

Protein Supplements And Weight Maintenance

The Study
Increasing dietary protein has been shown to improve satiety and decrease subsequent energy intake. Some studies have shown that increasing protein as a percent of calories results in more weight loss when compared to lower protein diets. However, the role of protein supplementation in weight maintenance is not known. After an eight-week weight loss period, 220 subjects consumed a supplement of 45 grams per day of whey protein, whey protein plus calcium, soy protein or maltodextrin (which served as the control group). Subjects were followed for weight regain for a period of 24 weeks. By the end of follow-up, there were no significant differences in weight regain among the 4 groups. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2017; 106:684-97.

Take Home Message
Protein serves a lot of really important functions and it is important to include a lean source of it at every meal.  However, it looks like aiding in weight maintenance is not one of these functions. There is no need to supplement with protein shakes. Just get your protein from whole food sources, as nature intended.

Glycemic Index, Satiety And Subsequent Energy Intake

The Study
Thirty-seven children between the ages of 9 and 12 were given a variety of different breakfasts for 3 consecutive days on separate occasions. One of these was a low glycemic index breakfast and another was a high glycemic index breakfast. After each meal, satiety was measured and the students had access to an all you can eat lunch buffet. The results were fascinating. Compared to the low glycemic index breakfast, subjects consumed 145 more calories at lunch when they ate the high glycemic index breakfast. Hunger was significantly greater after the high glycemic breakfast on 2 of the 3 days measured. Pediatrics 2003; 112:e414-19.

Take Home Message
This is an older study that I came across while researching my 4th book and it is a powerful one. What is really interesting to me is that both the high and low glycemic index breakfasts that they served these kids had the same number of calories. The fact that the students ate that much more after the high GI meal is a powerful example of how important carbohydrate quality is to subsequent energy intake.

In my opinion, a low GI approach to weight loss is by far the most effective strategy. I have been using it successfully with clients for almost 2 decades. A one meal difference of 145 calories is absolutely huge. If this happened 3 times a day for a month, you’ve got an excess of over 13,000 calories, which theoretically would result in a 3.7 pound weight gain, each and every month. 

Keeping your blood sugar stable with a low glycemic load diet is essential if weight loss is your goal. To do this, focus on fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains for your carbohydrates while limiting bread, pasta, white rice and sugar. Also make sure to add in healthy sources of protein and fat at every meal. You’ll be amazed at how much less hungry you are in between meals.

Product Review: Stamina 1690 Power Tower

Most of us are too busy to get to the gym every day, so working out at home is the key to working out consistently. You don’t need a lot of equipment or space to set up a serviceable home gym. When I was in grad school in Boston, I had a foldable bench, a Bowflex adjustable dumbbell system and a Gazelle Edge elliptical trainer. All of this equipment could be stored in the closet of my studio apartment.

However, if you have a basement or a garage as a dedicated workout space, you have the luxury of adding a few pieces of equipment that can really add variety to your at-home workout. Now that I live in a house in the suburbs, I have a nice sized basement with plenty of room for fitness equipment.

Today I’d like to review a great piece of equipment for those that have a little more space to dedicate to their home gym. It is called the Stamina 1690 Power Tower. This is a simply designed multi-station home gym that allows you to perform a variety of body weight exercises.

1) Inexpensive. The Power Tower is currently available on Amazon for $89.99. This is an amazing value.

2) Easy to put together. I put this together myself in a short amount of time and without any help. 

3) Versatile. You can perform a lot of different exercises with this system, including; pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, neutral grip push-ups, and a number of ab exercises.

4) Very sturdy.

5) Looks sharp

1) The only con I can come up with is that it takes up a fair amount of space. You have to make sure your ceiling is high enough to accommodate the 81 inches from ceiling to floor. I could do this comfortably in my basement, but I had to measure first.

Do I Recommend The Stamina 1690 Power Tower?
Absolutely. If you have the space, the Stamina 1690 Power Tower will make your home gym feel a lot more like an actual gym. Muscle confusion is key to a proper resistance training program. The more exercises that you have to choose from, the better your results are going to be.
If you want to pick up the Power Tower, it is available on, here is the link

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with the company that makes the Stamina 1690 Power Tower and make no money if you buy it.